On Wednesdays on social media, people use the hashtag #WriterWednesday to chat about all things author, book and writing, including authors promoting their own work. As we love to support self-published authors, we thought we’d join in and we will be featuring a UK self-published author every Wednesday on the website. This week, we met A.S. Chambers to find out more...
Please tell us about yourself; when did you first become interested in writing?
Hello there! My name is A.S.Chambers and I’ve always loved telling stories. When I was in primary school, I was always the bossy one organising other kids to re-enact and expand upon the latest Doctor Who or Blakes 7 episode that had been on the goggle box the night before.
When I hit the brooding teens and it was no longer cool to run around the playground blasting imaginary aliens I turned my attention to writing my stories down on paper. The central protagonist of my universe, down at heel investigator of the paranormal Sam Spallucci, was actually conceived at the back of a boring Chemistry lesson. Having someone chased around by a werewolf was far more thrilling than ionic and covalent bonding.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Well this is quite amusing as I was reading it just the other day. When I was mid teens, I wrote a novel called Fallen Angel. It was at the time when The Omen was all the rage, Nostradamus was in every tabloid and the superpowers were sat with twitchy fingers over big, red buttons. As a result, the novel was all about the end of the world and the involvement of angels in the the forthcoming apocalypse. It was going to take the world by storm, be made into a grand epic film and make me my millions. Needless to say, as of yet it has never seen the light of day.
Since my teens, Fallen Angel has evolved somewhat as I have aged and its latest incarnation was typed up back in 2010. It now ties directly in with my Sam Spallucci universe and is sat there waiting to published in about four books time.
What genre/genres do your books fall under?
Over the years, I have been called a horror author but I never have done and still don’t like the term horror to define a genre. People talk about all the great horror authors from Bram Stoker through to Stephen King and Anne Rice, but I feel, personally, that the horror elements of their stories are just one part of their works. What they write about are people being taken out of their normal, safe environment and dumped down into a world where the day to day rules do not apply. Horror, per se, is just one of the brushes used to paint on a very varied canvas and this is why the greats in the genre are head and shoulders above others. They don’t depend on the blood, guts and gore alone. They tell the story of people who are forced to react to the unusual and the weird. We see relationships built and destroyed. We hold our breath as those characters we love stagger their way to the bitter end.
So, when I write about vampires, werewolves, zombies and so forth, I don’t normally refer to myself as a horror writer. Yes, there are the occasional short stories where I let rip and limbs go flying, but to do so continually over a full novel is, quite frankly, mind-numbingly dull. For my particular genre, I prefer the term urban fantasy as I feel it is more accurate. I take a modern setting then introduce the fantastical and the paranormal. Yes, there is horror in there, but there is also romance, humour and the odd thrill along the way to add light and texture to the portrait that I am painting.
What is your latest book called, what is it about and what was the inspiration behind the book?
My latest book is the third in the Sam Spallucci series and is entitled Sam Spallucci: Shadows Of Lancaster. In it we see Sam still trying to catch his breath after the traumatic events of the previous book only to be thrown into a resurgence of the old Pendle Witch trials which plagued Lancashire back in the 1600s. Along the way, he encounters a grotesque who loves graffiti, a banshee with a penchant for bondage and a ghost who can’t help but gamble. Like the rest of the Sam Spallucci novels, it is a blend of urban fantasy with film noir and a splash of dry humour. There is even a nod to recent events where someone tried to steal the statue of Eric Morecambe from Morecambe seafront. In my book, I have Morecambe’s most famous son nicked by marauding mummies.
Besides your current book, do you have any new projects coming up?
Ha ha, where to start? I am currently editing my next book, Let All Mortal Flesh, which is a collection of short stories: some dark, some quirky. It should hopefully see the light of day later this year. Amongst the tales are the conclusion of the six vampire shorts that I have been working on which are part of the expanded universe of Sam Spallucci’s world and will tie in with next year’s book Sam Spallucci: Dark Justice.
I have recently been approached to adapt one of my short stories, Teeth, for the stage. A rather dark number with very few characters, it sees a pair of dentures take revenge on their owner when he gets implants. This should be great fun to work on.
I am also looking at collaborating with some local artists in turning some of my stories into graphic novels. I grew up on a rich diet of 2000AD and Marvel, so I would love to see my characters jump out of the pages of a comic.
As well as my writing I am also constantly travelling the country to varying conventions. Two of note in 2017 will be Birmingham Horror Con and Morecambe Comic Con, both where I have been invited along as a guest.
Where can people find your books?
There are two options, really. First, you can buy copies over at Amazon. There are links on my website (www.aschambers.co.uk) for this. Second, you can come along to any convention or event where I am signing and grab one which I have scribbled in. Again, the dates are on my website.
All being well, my books should start to pop up in Waterstones and the like from next year. For an indie author, the job of getting your hard copies on the shelves in the high street can painfully long and arduous, but hopefully they should be there next spring.
What has been the greatest moment in your writing career?
Oh, that’s an interesting one. I think possibly when two of my readers told me that they wanted to come up to Lancaster for their last holiday before their first child was born. It was something that I had never expected, that my words and characters would have such an impact on somebody’s life. As it was, I offered to show them around all the places that I had used in the books and the three of us (four, if you include the bump) had a lovely day. I now actually offer Sam Spallucci themed tours of Lancaster. Details, again, are on my website.
Besides writing, what hobbies or interests do you enjoy in your spare time?
What is this thing called “spare time” that you mention? Okay, I joke somewhat, but I have to say that, when it comes to writing, I am somewhat obsessive and it fairly much takes over my whole life from the ideas stage, through the planning and the researching, then onto the writing, editing, self-doubt and loathing before finally embarking on the all pervasive entity that is publishing and promoting.
When I do grab a few spare minutes, I either spend the time reading other people’s books (I love the Sharpe novels and the Dexter series to name but two) and I thoroughly enjoy going for long walks or running to clear my head.
Which novelists do you admire?
I’ve never really been much of a fanboy when it comes to other writers. At the end of the day, all writers have stories in them, they just have to be disciplined, sit down, ignore Facebook for a few hours and get writing. Having said that, if I had never read Dracula I doubt that I would be writing today, so I always have a special place in my heart for Bram Stoker.
What has been the best piece of writing advice you’ve received?
I once took a creative writing course when I was at university and, although it was definitely the most soul-destroying, uncreative thing I have ever done, my tutor gave me one excellent piece of advice. “There are,” he said, “six things that aspiring authors need to do: write, write, write and read, read, read. Never just read from one genre. If you do that then you will just end up being a second rate clone of your favourite author.”
So, whenever I am asked for advice by other writers, I always tell them to go away, grab a book that they would never normally touch with a ten foot barge poll and devour it. There will be a reason why that book has been published and it will normally be down to the creation of believable characters and a strong plot.